Friday, June 20, 2014

As we bring our school year to a close

As we bring our school year to a close, it is a time for reflection and recognition of the learning work done by our students, teachers, and families. From awards ceremonies to final report cards to Merriam's bon voyages to Halsted's promotion to Newton High's graduation, we recognize the accomplishments of all of our students and wish them much success as they move on to the next phase of their lives with a reminder of the special experiences they've had in the Newton Public Schools.

Speaking of special experiences, last Saturday's Newton Day celebration was a signature event in this year's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the town's incorporation. Spring Street and Memory Park were filled with the sights and sounds of happy families, proud officials, eager entrepreneurs, and steadfast community organizations. It also proved to be a wonderful opportunity to spread the good news about our schools. The following highlights about our schools were shared with those who wanted to know more about us:
  • Situated in the beautiful town of Newton – northwest New Jersey’s crossroads for arts, commerce, leisure, health care, government, education … city style, country cool 
  • World-class PISA achievement scores in literacy, mathematics, and science 
  • AP Honor Roll recognition for significant gains in student access and performance 
  • High academic growth rates on state elementary and middle school assessments 
  • Excellence in STEM education -- nationally competitive robotics and agriculture programs, county champion math and science league teams, elementary science lab 
  • Strong partnerships with high tech organizations such as Picatinny Arsenal, Thorlabs, and Johnson & Johnson 
  • First NJ school district to host a video downlink with the International Space Station 
  • Thriving programs in athletics, music, theater, and visual arts 
  • Health and physical education grounded in lifetime fitness and nutrition 
  • Character education and community service based on Trust, Respect & Support 
  • Low cost preschool and aftercare programs with certified teachers 
  • Free afterschool center for grades 4-8 featuring academic enrichment, engaging activities, healthy snacks, field trips, and transportation home 
  • Public school choice seats open for middle and high school students 
What can't be as easily measured and reported are the countless anecdotes of growth, achievement, and joy experienced by our students. These are the stories that must be told and heard one at a time. If you get the chance to speak with a Newton student this summer, be sure to ask them about their school year and what they're looking forward to when they return in September.

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